Tuesday, December 31, 2019


We are going to the St. Louis Symphony's  New Year's Eve gala tonight and I wouldn't be surprised if we heard a bit of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

This was taken at what is sometimes called composers' circle in Tower Grove Park. It's been on the blog a few times but sometimes I run out of ideas. A gazebo-bandstand is surrounded by marble columns with busts of Beethoven, Wagner, our friend above, Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Verdi and I'm probably forgetting somebody. The busts are all well-aged and a little ghastly. Who would we put on twelve such columns today? I have my opinion.      

Monday, December 30, 2019


Or are they really advertising the same thing? Jefferson at I 44. Today's theme music here.            

Sunday, December 29, 2019


Mrs. C and I were pretty broke when we got married and we didn't want to impose on our parents. Some friends of ours lived in a housing development next to St. Louis University and got us the community center for free. Other friends made a mountain of turkey dollar roll sandwiches, salads and assorted munchies. There was a keg of beer. A wedding cake was out of the question but there is a wonderful photograph of us feeding one another a McDonald's cheeseburger with the plastic bride and groom figures stuck in it. Forty five years later it is still a lovely memory..

Yet the wedding industrial complex rolls on. We shake our heads.           

Saturday, December 28, 2019


Bears are a prominent part of the Missouri state seal. Two of them stand, facing each other with grumpy expressions, around a circular device with the words "united we stand, divided we fall." In which case we are plummeting fast. But in any event, we have a large theater downtown named for whatever corporation puts up enough money. Flanking the entrance are a pair of stone bears with more benign expressions. Nothing like a pair of huge bears to make you feel welcome.     

Friday, December 27, 2019


Another "this reminds me of something" moment. Santa was working his way down the train car at the Polar Express. I shot what I could in a very cramped space. At one moment he seemed to be looking right at me with a suspicious expression. It made me think of old WW II or Cold War movies in which someone demanded identity documents or safe conduct passes from the hero, or the time many years ago when we crossed the German - Czech border by train. Gonna find out who's naughty and nice.              

Thursday, December 26, 2019


We haven't seen Archie in a while. This is not a new approach to the subject; rather, an old reliable one, taken at sunset on Christmas day. There was nothing going on at home yesterday. It got up to 70 F / 21 C, just shy of the all time record high. I had to get out of the house, get some air and sunshine in my face, and take a picture of something. Views like these make me wonder whether Stanley Kubrick wasn't a secret financier of the project.       

Wednesday, December 25, 2019


Merry Christmas from the Crowe household in St. Louis to all our friends and colleagues around the world. May all your images in the new year be brilliant.


Tuesday, December 24, 2019


My paralegal told me not to bother going to work today because there is nothing particular needing my attention. Since she runs my professional life I decided to follow her sage advice    

A better shot of the light projections on the barrel vault over Union Station's main hall, showing Santa's legendary toy factory. I wonder if the elves are organized. I tried  to add a short phone video but *&%&* Blogger keeps crashing during the upload, The work around was to copy it from Flickr.

Christmas light show at union station.


Monday, December 23, 2019


What we call the headhouse of the old Union Station is now a spectacular hotel lobby with luxury rooms to the left and right, and more out under the train shed. A little hard to tell since I was using a very wide angle lens but the view is straight up into a beautiful barrel vault ceiling. In the last couple of years the management has added light shows.

I tend to have loose associations, which is not a bad thing unless you are psychotic. Watching this part of the display, I couldn't get a certain old Monty Python bit out of my head. Sorry for any offense.


Sunday, December 22, 2019


I have neither read the book or seen the movie so I really don't know. You can make a guess from context. Characters (from the book, I assume) brought around  large print editions for the children to follow.Ellie was spellbound. I think the illustration, at least on the right side of these pages, is a little strange. Santa is standing bolt upright, chin a little raised. He is staring forward, looking like he was watching the approach of H. G. Wells' martians. But I'm sure everything turned out well in the end.  

Very late post today. I've got some kind of bug that leaves me feeling sleepy all the time.   

Saturday, December 21, 2019


So this Polar Express thing we took is actually a franchise. The themes are based on the book and movie. Everybody piles on to some creaky old coaches whose seating compared unfavorably with the last row on Spirit Airlines. The train pulls out of the station and slowly finds its way to the post-industrial wastelands north of the Arch.

Elves, chefs, conductors and Santa whipped the children into a constant frenzy. They loved it. Some of us geezers thought it was like an unpleasant visit to the dentist, but it wasn't about us.

That's daughter Emily and the irrepressible Ellie above.

Friday, December 20, 2019


First, let me note that I think I'm finished posting Santarchy pictures here. There are lots of other good ones, though, that you can see at https://www.flickr.com/photos/bobcrowe/albums/72157712223293963

The family went to Union Station last night for the Polar Express train ride for kids and a buffet dinner inside the grand hall of the hotel that occupies the headhouse. I don't walk too fast these days and, while lagging behind the family, this young man and I struck up a conversation. He noticed, as everyone does, the two camera bodies and lens bag hanging off me. His name was Jesse and he asked me to take his picture. No problem, of course, and I just emailed it to him. A little strange and dramatic with a very wide angle lens and the Station's lighting,          

Thursday, December 19, 2019


The whole world smiles with you.  Alcohol can promote good cheer, depression or raging anger. It was pretty much all the first one at Santarchy.

Big family event tonight although there might not be pictures until Saturday.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


More from Santarchy. The trio in the first picture have a marked WTF? expression to me, fake Santas boggling at fake Santas. Despite the Russian-ish outfit, the man in the second reminds me a lot of those Dos Equis beer ads about "the most interesting man in the world." His closing words were always "stay thirsty, my friends." You had to in order to keep drinking beer for the number of hours these people did.        

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


You don't have to be Christian to go to a Christmas party (or all day bar crawl). Turn your colors to blue and white, wear menorah sunglasses and Happy Hanukkah! And I daresay that some of the revelers were, um, unchurched. That's Lohr Barclay, our organizer and leader, on the right.        

Monday, December 16, 2019


There is a tradition at this time of year of hanging a sprig of mistletoe from the ceiling or a doorway (although I haven't a clue about where to go to find some). If a couple passes under it they are supposed to kiss. It's not likely that the bars visited by the Santarchy crew went to the trouble to put some up but a little encouragement from the photographer worked just as well.            

Sunday, December 15, 2019


Lohr Barclay and my friends at Artica put on a wacky annual event called Santarchy. This merry group, wearing Santa suits or something suggesting it, met at 9:30 yesterday for breakfast and then went from bar to bar chanting ho, ho, ho until, theoretically, midnight. I take pictures all day, culminating with the group shot at the City Museum around 6 PM. That's enough for me although the group heads off to other downtown venues. I had already put in an eight and a half hour shift and they would have to pay me overtime after that. Since I was a volunteer, it might be problematic.

Lots more pictures from this to come. And we are getting our first real snow of the season today, which should be worth a snap.                  

Saturday, December 14, 2019


Someone is paying for a few billboards around the area that sell nothing. One says "I 🖤 STL" and another "😃 SMILE."  I'd like to get pictures of all of them but someone would have to drive me so I can shoot through the windshield. I took this one at the wheel on my way home from work last night. Maybe someone will be moved by it.

Running very low on material but there is an all-day event today that should get me a car load.        

Friday, December 13, 2019


Late post today. Just too much to do. This is the next statue over from the ones we saw yesterday. Why are they all so bleak? I think of theaters as places of entertainment although the works they perform can be very serious. So, unless the stage specializes in Euripides, Chekhov, Ibsen and Miller, how about a smile?          

Thursday, December 12, 2019


Redevelopment in downtown St. Louis is very hit and miss. Lots of old commercial buildings have been rehabbed into apartments, even a couple into new hotels. There are plenty of restaurants and much new construction around the baseball stadium aimed at people with money to burn. On the other hand, there are lots of vacant storefronts. This is the facade of a theater that has been out of business a long time. There are lots of other venues along the central corridor of the city so no reason or money to do something with this one.

And so it sits there and erodes. No wonder the faces in this frieze are unhappy.         

Wednesday, December 11, 2019


We are fortunate to have one of America's finest symphony orchestras. It is the second oldest in the country, behind only the New York Philharmonic (which once had Gustav Mahler as its conductor so how you gonna beat that). Our new music director,  Stéphane Denève, has brought the St. Louis Symphony to even greater artistic achievement. Mrs. C and I have been subscribers for 43 years.

Powell Symphony Hall is gorgeous at this time of year. This is how we were greeted last weekend when we attended a program of the music of Handel and Bach.     

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


I can't say enough good about the Tuxedo Park Inn, where out little law firm had its holiday party last weekend. The owners, Bill and Maureen, did a spectacular job of restoring a dilapidated old church and turning it into a small inn and event space. Would that there were more pictures I could show but my other photos (except yesterday's) are all of my staff and their companions. We will leave them out of this so that their cocktail preferences remain private.      

Monday, December 9, 2019


Ellie came to the office's holiday party because her mother works with us and what else are we going to do with her. She's going through that dental phase common to six year olds. Doesn't stop her from stating her opinion, though.    

Sunday, December 8, 2019


The patio of the Broadway Oyster Bar downtown. It serves food in the style of southern Louisiana with its Cajun and Creole traditions, brought up the Mississippi to St. Louis. The difference between the two can be subtle. Cajuns are the descendants of Catholic French Canadians from Acadia who relocated to warmer climes after the British took over. Creole means native born to the area and could refer to people of African, French and Spanish descent. The food traditions are interwoven.

Preparing this post reminded me of the now partly demolished building a half block to camera right. Way back 12 years ago, it was the subject of what I think is my best post of all time.          

Saturday, December 7, 2019


Actually, the group isn't very rowdy. The firm is small and we're getting a little...old. We had it at a gorgeous converted church that became a meeting facility and B & B. Some of us, including the boss and spouse (he said, looking in the mirror) got to spend the night.

The picture is of a relatively new store on Manchester Avenue in The Grove. They deal in unusual premium spirits, exotic bitters and herbal infusions, barware of all sorts and, of all things, super pure ice. We're more wine drinkers but I should visit here some time.        

Thursday, December 5, 2019


We are a mid-size Midwestern city. People from the big cities of the coasts pass over us, sometimes leaving mysterious patterns in the sky. This was taken from my office window on a recent late afternoon, facing roughly east-northeast. The plains of Illinois are in the foreground.         

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


So, okay, here's a guy as old as I am, or close, out for some exercise. Good for him. But is the whole ensemble a bit much? Trail bike (expensive, no doubt), special shoes, bicycle tights (probably Gortex), high visibility jacket (ditto), super sunglasses, bike helmet to match the outfit, looking at his smart phone, probably a workout app. Now where are my comfy torn jeans?            

Monday, December 2, 2019


I'm not a big fan of country music since I came from an alien culture. I grew up listening to Cousin Brucie on WABC AM in New York and my father's boss was on the board of the NY Philharmonic. When I came to St. Louis U. in the fall of 1967 there was different air to breathe. Didn't have enough money to fly home to (by then) New Jersey that first Thanksgiving so I got a ride with my roommate to his home in Nashville. His brother-in-law was the PR director for the Grand Ole Opry and got us in backstage to the Saturday night show at the Ryman Auditorium. There were so many sequins under the stage lights that I was blinded for days.

This bar gets its name because it is one block from the baseball stadium and there are seven possible games in the World Series. The device in the center is the flag of the City of St. Louis, which I think is pretty cool. It celebrates the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers here and our French heritage.          


The Greek myth was the first thing I thought of when I saw this stone turtle. It never makes any progress pushing its heavy ball across the patio of the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park and never gets to rest. There has to be a metaphor in there somewhere.      

Sunday, December 1, 2019


I had to go way back in the archives to find this one. It was taken from a previous office where I had a good view of the Arch, probably with an early phone cam.

See rainbows and possibly unicorns from CDP members' cities around the world here.         

Saturday, November 30, 2019


A gray Thanksgiving morning in nearly empty Forest Park. Taken inside the World's Fair Pavilion, a popular event venue with a sweeping view of the park. It was not, however, built for the 1904 World's Fair, but in 1909 with proceeds from the fair.            

Friday, November 29, 2019

Black Friday Wishes

Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday and many businesses are closed the following day. That brings an awful American tradition known as Black Friday. Stores open at midnight (and now some as early as 5 PM on the holiday itself) advertising huge (and sometimes deceptive) bargains. Hoards descend on places like Walmart like a swarm of hornets or do their best to burn up Amazon's servers. It is consumerism at its very worst

SO DON'T DO IT. DON'T BUY STUFF TODAY. You don't need it. It just makes Jeff Bezos richer than God and hastens environmental breakdown. Make today look like one of our big malls did yesterday.

Fat chance. All our family is buying today is movie tickets. We're going to see Mr. Rogers.         

Thursday, November 28, 2019


It's quiet around the Crowe house this weekend. Neither Mrs. C or I are natives so there is no local extended family. In years past we often went to see her mother out in the Kansas farmland but since she left us at the age of 98 the draw isn't there. Our son and his family live up in Michigan, not the best place to travel in late November.

So it's just those of us here. Peaceful, especially since no one in this household has the slightest interest in watching football on TV. Maybe I'll go snap a shutter at something. I could go to Forest Park although it's supposed to be miserably cold and wet today. The photo was taken last Saturday when it was relatively balmy.           

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


Be sociable! Engage with other people! It could be almost anything -  the Masons, the Green Party, the Boy/Girl Scouts, the Rosicrucians, the pickleball league, the FBI, the circus, the Justice League of America. (Just not the Republican Party.) Get off your duff, put down that game console and engage in collective action.

This particular sign invites people to become members of the Saint Louis Art Museum.        

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


It can be hard to find material at this time of year. I rarely have an opportunity to shoot during the work week. Few outdoor events and I can get my fill of outlandish Christmas decorations quickly. Sometimes I circle around to old haunts to check if there is anything new to see.

So back to The Apotheosis of St. Louis, the grand equestrian statue of King Louis IX of France that stands in front of the art museum and looks down over Forest Park. It's all about the light here. I've shot it many times before but like Siddhartha and the river, you never look at the same sky twice.

The nicest thing happened to me after I shot this picture. A middle aged man walked up to me and said, "Are you Bob?" "Hi," I replied. "yes, I'm Bob Crowe." "I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog," he went on. "I look at it almost every day and it gives me a lot of pleasure." "Wow, thank you," I said. "I'm delighted you enjoy it. And what's your name?" "Jim," he said with a little smile, and then was off on his way.


Monday, November 25, 2019


No, I'm not bringing this blog to a close. It will probably go on as long as my right index finger moves and Adobe grants me a license to use Photoshop. This image marks the end of our family's afternoon at Union Station after the early sunset. We will be back next month to take Ellie on the Polar Express train ride and dinner under the spectacular barrel vault ceiling over the lobby of the Union Station Hotel.             

Sunday, November 24, 2019


One of the features of the rehabbed Union Station is a show of gas jets set to music, sort of like dancing fountains but with fire. It runs under the train shed every half hour from 5 to 10 PM, lasting four or five minutes.

It looks cool but it is really, really wrongheaded. Just what we need, sending hundreds or thousands of cubic meters of butane with all its heat and hydrocarbons into the atmosphere 11 times an evening. We are in enough trouble already. I have to admit that I am a climate pessimist. Sure, predictions of the future get battered by the unexpected but I think that there is some chance that I am living at the high point, if you can call it that, of human existence and may leave it just in time. I fear for my grandchildren. This display and the reckless people in our national government are some of the reasons why.         

Saturday, November 23, 2019


Is there any country besides the United States in which lawyers advertise so much, if at all? It's been some time since I've been in the UK but I think I've seen a bit there. It is everywhere in this country, a result of a Supreme Court decision some decades ago that it was protected by the free speech provision of our constitution. 

Now it's everywhere. My little firm does some. We have to. We represent ordinary people; we are a consumer service in a very specialized area. If you are curious you can click the link to the firm website in the sidebar of my blog.               

Friday, November 22, 2019


A clock tower rises over Union Station near sunset, looking down over the geometry of the old train shed. I sometimes wonder what is in the tower. Turns out there is a 12 year old video on YouTube about that. The latest revision of the hotel that now fills the headhouse added a few luxury suites.                        

Thursday, November 21, 2019


Haven't had one of these in a while but then there are only so many ways you can depict an upside down catenary arch. The monument is partly concealed by what passes for a skyline around here. 

Some notes about the buildings: The low, saddle-topped building is the hockey arena, home of, if I may say so, the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. The tall building with the dome on the right is the federal courthouse. It precisely blocks the view of the Arch from the main highway coming into downtown from the west. The tall building on the left is vacant. After the anti-trust break up of the original AT&T many regional "baby Bells" were created and Southwestern Bell was headquartered here. It gobbled up some of the other regional phone companies and then bought the rights to the AT&T name. For awhile that building was the headquarter of the new AT&T but then they moved the operation to Dallas. The building, having the greatest amount of floor space of any in the area, has been emptied out. I've read that since it was built for a single tenant it is very difficult to repurpose, so there it sits.          

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


No special reason for this, other than I've been posting things about The Wheel. I just like the picture.           

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


The automobile in this picture is a black Honda Accord sedan. Nothing flashy. Comfortable, reliable, affordable transportation, and practical since almost everyone in America needs a car. As it happens, I drive one myself. But, just occasionally, a modest Honda gets kissed by a fairy and ends up looking like this. Obviously, it's the reflection of the Wheel.